To the Editor,

On August 24th, an article in the opinion section was published entitled “Don’t forget our non-traditional students.” I applaud the effort of the rebel yell in shedding some light on this under represented group of students. Full time workers, parents, and military veterans comprise a few non-traditional student groups who come to campus with a different perspective; they are often older, their career track is usually set, and they certainly approach education with a different level of maturity.

Consider the age gap between the traditional freshman and a non-traditional student. Years of experience in life provides a wealth of knowledge for the non-traditional student in comparison to the traditional freshman. It is evident in interpersonal and public communication as well; I am careful to make general statements, but it seems that speaking in general is different between traditional and non-traditional students. In my first week of classes I noticed such a difference, younger students tend to fill the void of silence in between thoughts with “uhhh….umm” and utilizing my favorite word “like”. Non-traditional students usually have professional experience and understand that this is not an academically sound way of communicating nor is it professional.

Non-traditional students also have an idea of which field or profession they intend on entering, which is the deciding factor in their return to higher education. In comparison, it seems traditional students question their career path by changing their major countless times, which I completely understand.

However, it is rather unnerving to sit in a class where a professor must degrade material down to students with less life experience and a lost sense of direction. Consider this, if you are between the ages of 18-21, would you want to sit in a class with 15-17 year old teenagers and learn about world events.

Would that level of discussion progress to a stimulating conversation?

My previous rhetorical question reaffirms the idea that most non-traditional students approach education with a level of maturity that surpasses that of the majority of traditional students. Now, this is not true in every case, but maturity certainly corresponds with age. Non-traditional students enter, or reenter college, to pursue their education and challenge themselves. The challenge is not in the curriculum for the non-traditional student, but lies within the socially inept atmosphere that often clouds a traditional classroom.

It would certainly be uncharacteristic of me to offer these issues without solutions. For those of you unaware, there has been research conducted in the field of adult learning and non-traditional students. Here at UNLV, I propose that non-traditional students be afforded the opportunity to enroll in course sections designated specifically for them; considering most courses offer multiple sections, this is feasible.

Michael Dakduk,
Public administration major

NOTE: Letters to the editor run unedited.

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